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“The grenade came to rest near Sergeant Peralta’s head. Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, Sergeant Peralta reached out and pulled the grenade to his body, absorbing the brunt of the blast and shielding fellow Marines only feet away,” the citation reads.

Peralta’s supporters say that heroic action, based on the eyewitnesses’ accounts, usually would be enough to earn the Medal of Honor.

But Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates convened a special review that questioned the medical evidence, concluding that Peralta was brain-dead at the time of the grenade blast. Even if Peralta scooped the grenade, the conclusions say, it wasn’t done consciously.

Mr. Gates rejected the award of the Medal of Honor. His successor, Secretary Leon E. Panetta, and now Mr. Hagel have refused to reopen the nomination.

But Peralta has been honored repeatedly. He was awarded the Navy Cross, the second-highest honor for a Marine, and the Navy announced in 2012 that it was naming a destroyer after him. Peralta’s M-16 now sits in storage at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

Support for Peralta

Mr. Jones, one of the Marines who insists Peralta saved his life, said he was shocked at The Post report and dismissed the claims of other Marines that details of the story were fabricated.

“I think it’s just ridiculous that these guys that didn’t even see it in the first place come out and try to stir up a bunch of controversy,” he told The Washington Times. “People in the room have never changed their story. They’ve never went back and said anything was different, and there’s absolutely no humanly possible way any story was concocted.”

The Times talked with another Marine in the room that day who said he was alive because Peralta swept the grenade underneath himself, and a combat photographer who was following Peralta’s unit that day and whose video of the aftermath showed Peralta with injuries consistent with a grenade blast.

Mr. Jones said The Post reporter asked him “one-sided questions” and that the paper didn’t look over all of the physical evidence.

In a three-page letter to The Post, Mr. Hunter, the congressman who has taken up Peralta’s cause, laid out a number of details of physical evidence and inconsistencies in the accounts of the Marines who are now questioning the story.

Among those are the video shot by the combat photographer showing the aftermath of the fight and Peralta’s body, with wounds consistent with the original story and contrary to what the dissenting Marines now claim. The video also covers the period when the story would have been concocted, but there is no evidence of any such discussion, Mr. Hunter said.

Mr. Hunter also pointed to pictures of Peralta’s body armor, which ended up with a fragment of the grenade fuse embedded in it, which he said was consistent with the initial story.

The congressman said all of that evidence was provided to The Post’s reporter, Ernesto Londono.

The reporter referred questions from The Washington Times to a company spokeswoman, Kristine Coratti, who did not address the concerns Mr. Hunter raised.

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